Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Event title:

Concert given by the Ponta sisters

Venue: Žofín Island (Žofín Hall)

Event type: Popular social musical and dance events

Date: 08/02/1857 12noon

Season: Carnival

Beneficiary: Josefov Orphanage
Benefactor: Ponta,Therese

Programme comprising:

arr. Petzmaier, Johann: Errinerungen an die Alpen, arr. zither , zither
     • Ponta, Therese : zither
VIEUXTEMPS, Henri : , WOLFF, E. : Duo concertante for piano and violin on themes from Weber's opera Oberon, vl, pf, nr.2, op.14
     • Mildner, Mořic : vl Ponta, Jenny : pf
SCHUBERT, Franz Peter : song Erlkönig, v, pf, D328
     • Ponta, Therese : v Blodek, Vilém : pf
SPOHR, Louis : unspecified Andantino, [arr.?] zither
     • Ponta, Therese : zither
PETZMAIER, Johann : waltz Possenhofer Walzer, zither
     • Ponta, Therese : zither
LEFÉBURE-WÉLY, Louis James Alfred : Piano work Les cloches du Monastére, pf, op.54
     • Ponta, Jenny : pf
MAYER, Charles : Grande étude for pianoforte, pf, F-sharp major
     • Ponta, Jenny : pf
KREBS, Charles : song [Lied] Mein Herz ist im Hochlande, v, pf
     • Ponta, Therese : v
LACHNER, J. : song [Lied] Der rechti Mo, v, [pf]
     • Ponta, Therese : v
arr. Petzmaier, Johann: Grande divertissement from Bellini opera Il puritani, arranged zither and piano , zither, pf
     • Ponta, Therese : zither Ponta, Jenny : pf


Mercy’s Anzeiger 6/2/1857 published a report noting the date, time and venue of this concert being given by the Ponta sisters from Munich. The source listed the programme in performance order and the participating soloists.

A review, signed ‘-h.’, was published by Tagesbote aus Böhmen  9/2/1857. The correspondent remarked that ‘Yesterday Miss Therese Ponta gave a lunchtime concert... in the Žofín Hall together with her sister Jenny, who appeared as a pianist. This young lady shows an appealing level of accomplishment and a certain energetic daring when it comes to technique. Yet, brought into the glaring light of public exposure from the discrete lamplight of the private salon where it belongs, all this seemed rather inadequate. Purest among her offerings - so far as this is possible when all the difficult passages are rushed and with her foot permanently on the pedal - was Miss Jenny Ponta’s rendition of the Etude in F sharp by C. Mayer; her least effective was the piano part of a duet by Wolff with violin (played here by Prof. Mildner). Her other pieces were Wélis’ [Lefébure-Wély] Gloches (?!) du Monastére, the favourite piece of all institute pupils aged between nine and twelve, and a fantasia by Petzmayer, in which her sister Therese played the zither part. The latter’s tender and practised handling of this instrument was remarked upon on a previous occasion in a concerto by Grün. We were offered a repeat of two pieces that [she] has performed recently: the Possenhofner Waltz, which in its quirky steely sound [Stahltöne] imitates a harmonica, again found the greatest appeal; and a more substantial Fantasie on Alpine themes. Miss Therese Ponta also sang Schubert’s Erlkönig. For its sheer magnitude this song is all but beyond the reach of most, and mere art singers [Sänger der Künst] - always do better to leave the picture veiled, that is, the song muted [in expression], than to reveal, in its atmosphere of shrouded gloom, their own lack of power. The nightmarish element of the song is what affected us most profoundly in Frln Ponta’s performance; a “creepy” overall effect was undeniable. The singer was happier in two lighter songs; she sang Mein Hochland by Krebs with warmth and taste, and Der Rechte Mo (Mann) with the requisite freshness and caprice. For the full effect of the zither, and for the elegant but not very numerous audience, the hall was too large; the applause was lively.’

An unsigned review of this event was published by Mercy’s Anzeiger 10/2/1857. The correspondent reported that ‘The concert of Misses Therese and Jenny Ponta from Munich, the full particulars of the programme of which we related in advance, was given at noon the day before yesterday in the Žofín Hall before a very distinguished and in fair number assembled audience. Miss Jenny Ponta provided support by giving with great fluency several greater and lesser known pieces on the piano, and following each gained loud applause. Miss Therese Ponta had in a previous concert already distinguished herself as an excellent zither player, and her performance on this instrument, whose effect in the large hall was however indisputably impaired, found the warmest praise of all the numbers on the programme. After animated applause for the Possenhofer Walzern she added a further piece [as encore]. The songs Mein Herz ist im Hochland and Der Rechte Mo were just as popular as Schubert’s Der Erlkönig. Professor Mildner participated in the Grande Fantasie sur l’Opera Oberon for piano and violin of Ed. Wolf and Fr. [Henri] Vieuxtemps.’

Mercy’s Anzeiger 11/2/1857 reported that ‘The Misses Therese and Jenny Ponta, have from the takings of their concert on 8th February in the Žofín Hall given a sum of 30fl to the Josefov Orphanage [Josefstädter Kinderbewahranstalt].’ A similar reported appeared in Tagesbote aus Böhmen 11/2/1857 which the newspaper related was drawn from that same day’s issue of Prager Zeitung.

Summary of sources:

Mercy's Anzeiger für Böhmen (06/02/1857)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (09/02/1857)
Mercy's Anzeiger für Böhmen (10/02/1857)
Mercy's Anzeiger für Böhmen (11/02/1857)
Tagesbote aus Böhmen (11/02/1857)